Building assets for youth success

Youth need assets to avoid risky behavior and become successful adults.

As parents, it is easy to get scared watching the news and seeing crime, drinking and driving, teen pregnancy, drugs and suicide. You might be wondering, “How can I prevent these things from happening to my children or the youth in my community?” We all know there is no secret pill for perfect parenting, but according to the Search Institute there are ways parents and communities can help youth develop positive assets to become successful adults.

Created in the 1990’s the framework of the 40 Developmental Assets ® is grounded in research on child and adolescent development, risk prevention and resiliency. Search Institute’s research shows that the more assets young people have the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors. In addition, these common themes about the importance of assets have emerged from numerous findings: 

  • Assets promote academic success
  • Assets divert youth from risky behaviors and increase civic engagement
  • Assets give young people the strengths they need to make positive choices in life
  • Assets do make a difference. This information gives a new sense of hope and practical direction for parents, teachers, educators and communities to make a difference in the lives of today’s youth.

How to Start: Eight types of assets have been identified as crucial for helping young people grow up healthy.

  1. Supporting and loving your child
  2. Empowering your child
  3. Setting clear and realistic boundaries and expectations
  4. Helping your child use her or his time in meaningful, constructive ways
  5. Encouraging your child to develop a commitment to learning
  6. Instilling in your child positive values
  7. Developing social competencies in your child
  8. Encouraging your child to form a positive identity

To learn about all 40 Development Assets ® visit the Search Institute website at

Together as parents and youth in our communities we can strive to develop the positive assets that will help our youth be successful in life. Through Michigan 4-H Youth Development youth are building assets through positive relationships with leaders, empowering youth to be creators of their own development and helping others through service.

Did you find this article useful?